Murdered Student's Family in Perugia for Hearing

Meredith Kercher's family is in Perugia while three suspects remain jailed.

ByABC News
October 28, 2008, 5:59 PM

ROME, Italy, April 19, 2008 — -- The family of Meredith Kercher, the 22-year-old British student killed in Italy last November, returned to the town of Perugia, Italy, this week to attend a hearing today in her murder case.

Kercher's mother, brother and sister returned to Perugia for the second time since the college student's November death in the medieval Italian town. They visited Perugia just days after Kercher was found dead and left a rose and a note on the steps of the Perugia Cathedral.

Kercher was found in her bedroom in a pool of blood, with her throat slashed, on the morning of Nov. 2.

Three people are presently in prison in Italy, suspected of being accomplices in the murder of Kercher, including Kercher's American roommate, Amanda Knox, 20.

The Kercher family is in Perugia to participate in a hearing in which a panel of experts will discuss the results of the autopsy carried out on Kercher's body last November.

A group of forensic experts have been asked by a Perugia judge to establish the cause of death, time of death and to ascertain whether Kercher was a victim of sexual assault. Their findings will constitute confirmed evidence to be used in court.

The Kercher family's Italian lawyer, Francesco Maresca, told ABC News the family came because "they know that the hearing tomorrow is an important stage in the investigation, and they wanted to be here."

It is the first time the family has attended any of the legal proceedings in the case.

Kercher's family, accompanied by Maresca, met today with Giuliano Mignini, the Italian prosecutor investigating Kercher's murder, who questioned them as witnesses and asked them about certain economic aspects of the British girl's life in Perugia, according to local press reports. Theft is being considered as a possible motive in the murder.

Knox, a student at the University of Washington, and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, passed from being key witnesses in Kercher's death to prime suspects when they were taken into custody four days after the murder.

Also arrested on Nov. 6 was Patrick Diya Lumumba, a local pub owner who, Knox told police under interrogation, was in Meredith's room with her the night of the murder when Knox heard screams.

Lumumba was released 10 days later when forensic police found no evidence placing him on the scene of the crime. At the same time, a bloody handprint found on the scene was identified as belonging to Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native who lives in Perugia. He had fled to Germany, where he was arrested and brought back to Italy and jailed.

Knox, Sollecito and Guede -- who have been held in jail for almost five months without being formally charged -- all claim they are innocent. Italian prosecutors say they have evidence tying all three to the scene of the crime.

Suspects in Italy can be jailed for up to one year without being indicted.

At a meeting with journalists in Perugia on Friday, Meredith's brother Lyle read a statement in which the family said, "Nothing can be done to bring Meredith back to life, but we can at least ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."

The family said it has full confidence in the police and the forensic experts working on the case, in their lawyers and in the Italian justice system, "notwithstanding repeated attempts to discredit the evidence and compromise the investigation."